Hodges references Clark protests at MinnRoast, gets jeered by protesters

Protesters with air horns disrupted last night’s MinnRoast, the fundraiser at the State Theater for the independent news site MinnPost [dislaimer: I am a financial contributor to MinnPost], after Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges used an incident during the 4th Precinct protests as the setting for a joke about her husband.

Last November 18, a group of protesters, urging Hodges to release video of the police shooting of Jamar Clark, rang the doorbell at the Hodges home. Her husband answered and invited them in.

At Friday night’s show, Hodges, who has won plaudits for comedic timing at previous MinnRoast events, was in the middle of a skit involving quizzing the audience with a series of true-false questions, when she used the episode as the foundation of her joke.

“True or false?” Hodges began,asking whether you ,”should answer the door” when a group of protesters demonstrators ring your doorbell late at night.

With the largely white (and DFL-leaning) audience shouting answers when Hodges said, “If you’re my husband… true.” Hodges then described the incident, noting the existence of a YouTube video, and saying “I wasn’t home; I was working,” suggesting she was flabbergasted that her husband let the protesters in. [Note: The mayor’s office notes she did not use the word protesters. See update below.]

Hodges said she called her husband numerous times to see if he was alright, but he did not answer.

Later, the mayor said, she asked her husband why he didn’t answer the phone.

“I was in the middle of a conversation,” he told her, to the roar of the audience at the State Theatre.

Then the air horns began and protesters in the balcony began shouting. [Note: The mayor’s office notes the protest erupted 3 minutes later. See update below.]

“This is not a joke,” a man said. “A man is dead.”

Hodges did not appear stunned by the catcalls, but deflected the protest by saying she supported the right to speak. “And this is not a true-false question,” she said, the audience roaring its approval. [Note: Transcript of the mayor’s response below.]

“We have heard you and now we are going on with the show,” she said.

“I have more jokes. Want to hear them?” she asked.

The crowd did.

Later, protesters similarly interrupted Rep. Keith Ellison (DFL-Minn.) while he was singing and playing his guitar. He had made no reference to the protest over Jamar Clark’s killing.

Having earlier invited the audience to clap along with his song, the crowd clapped louder when the protests began.

Near the end of the show, Sen. Al Franken (DFL-Minn.) was interrupted during his monologue with air horns and catcalls.

“I think Betsy did a fine job,” he responded, as the protesters were led out of the theater. “This has been a rough issue for this city and this country.”

After a pause and showing his comedic timing, Franken continued.

“And now back to the jokes.”

[Update 7:49 a.m.] – Hodges spokesperson David Prestwood responds:

We haven’t had the opportunity to meet yet. My name is David Prestwood, and I’m the Communications Director for Mayor Betsy Hodges. I read your Newscut article on MinnRoast, and I was pretty shocked by the way it read.

Let me start by providing you with the actual transcript of what the Mayor said about her husband:

“True or False: when demonstrators show up at your home unannounced, it is a good idea to let them in. That’s a trick question. If you’re my husband, the answer is true. If you’re me, the answer is ‘He did what?’ So for those of you who don’t know, during the occupation of the 4th Precinct there was a night when demonstrators came to my home. I wasn’t there. I was actually working. But my husband let them in and chatted with them. You can watch it all online. It was livestreamed, and you can watch it. But when I found out that they were there, I dialed my husband over and over frantically, as you might imagine, as any wife would. When I asked him later why he hadn’t answered the phone my husband, god bless him, said, ‘I was in the middle of a conversation.'”

First, in your article, including the headline, you repeatedly use the words “protest” and “protestors.” Those are your words – the Mayor never used them. You also mention in the comments that you “cannot change how the mayor characterized it because it’s a direct quote.” This is simply untrue. She didn’t use either word the entire night. I don’t understand why you would represent otherwise.

Secondly, you follow the conclusion of your representation of the joke about her husband with, “Then the air horns began and protesters in the balcony began shouting.” This simply isn’t the case – the interruption was four minutes and three seconds later. That’s the bulk of her entire remarks. The story about her husband was the fifth “true/false” question she asked, and the interruption began in the middle of the seventeenth. I can’t understand why you would indicate some kind of immediate connection both in the headline and the article. As you note, Congressman Ellison and Senator Franken were interrupted as well. It was clear that the interruption was not in response to anything the Mayor said but rather pre-planned. People brought in air horns. It was happening no matter what the Mayor’s remarks were.

Third, you wrote, “Hodges did not appear stunned by the catcalls, but deflected the protest by saying she supported the right to speak. “And this is not a true-false question,” she said, the audience roaring its approval. “We have heard you and now we are going on with the show,” she said. “I have more jokes. Want to hear them?” she asked.”

Somehow – and I cannot imagine why – you managed to leave out the meat of what she actually said in response. For the record, that was, “It’s been a tough, emotional few months in Minneapolis for everybody. I won’t even make it a true or false question. And I’m grateful for everybody who reminds us that there is much more to do about police-community relations, and about racial equity, including the demonstrators inside this theater, because there is more to do. I am proud of us as a people and as a city that we are sticking with this difficult conversation, engaging with each other, challenging each other, challenging me. Listening to each other carefully and respectfully. It is hard, and it is painful, but it is necessary.”

The later quote you excerpted from was, “We are listening, and we have heard you, and now we are going on with the show. So thank you everybody for being here, thank you everybody for respectfully being a part of this conversation.”

You cropped out every single part of her response that indicated she was listening, taking their concerns seriously, and dedicated to continuing the conversation and finding solutions. What you left makes it look like she blew it off completely, which could not be further from the truth.

All of this makes it look to me like you’re expressing a viewpoint rather than reporting the facts. Whether or not you thought her story was funny isn’t relevant – you misrepresented how the entire situation happened. And your article and your first tweet are now being used all over social media to blast the Mayor for making light of the occupation – something she absolutely did not, and would not, do.

The tweet I’m referencing was, “Mayor of Mpls makes joke about Jamar Clark protest at #MinnRoast to catcalls from protests. “A man is dead,” they shout.”

She absolutely did not make a joke “about Jamar Clark protest.” She didn’t mention Jamar Clark. She didn’t say “protest.” She told a story about her husband inviting demonstrators who went to her house to come inside. I’m sure you can see the difference in those two statements, and you have seen the huge gulf between how they’re taken by readers. And the joke she did make, she didn’t make to catcalls. Again, the interruption was more than four minutes later.

I’m writing to get an explanation and to give you the opportunity to correct the record. I’m happy to talk further, and you can contact me using the info below.

Related: MinnRoast Finally Goes Into A Ditch (Nick Coleman on Medium)

  • Rob Levine

    Shows you who is on the inside, and who is on the outside. MinnPost model is elitest and flawed by its inherent conflicts of interest. It’s sad that so many journalists who should know better defend MinnPost’s pay-to-play funding model and its tight connections to pols.

    • Too my knowledge, there were no journalists for MinnPost taking part in any of last night’s routine; although I don’t know any of them on site other than Britt Robson.

      The publisher and their managing editor made a pitch for money but I’m pretty sure none of their working journalists were there or rubbed any shoulders with the people they cover. I’m sure someone who’d recognize them will correct me if that is incorrect.

      • Rob Levine

        Oh please. That’s not how control is had. MinnPost’s medical coverage has a condition that policy never be discussed. And their education coverage is horrendously biased in favor of the foundations that fund it. A friend proposed a beat there, but was told it wouldn’t happen unless she found a funder. You think begging Pols for money & favor has no effect on coverage?

        • Rob Levine

          If you think that kind of comfortable shmoozing between Pols & journalists has no effect, you prolly belong on the Clinton campaign.

      • Rob Levine

        The whole thing a perversion – the comfortable afflicting the afflicted.

      • Rob Levine

        The whole thing is a sleaze show – that will get no coverage – because the “liberals” who might object are either on the MinnPost payroll, are friends with those on the payroll, or are paid off by other “liberal” interest groups to keep them in line.

      • Rob Levine

        BTW – those MinnPost journalists & editors don’t have to take part in the sleeze of MinnRoast to be compromised – they spend their days figuring out what the bosses and funders want – not unlike MPR – because not doing it could be fatal to their careers.

  • Donna

    Didn’t you at one point trash the MinnRoast idea as a bit too cozy a relationship between journalists and those they cover? What changed your mind?

    • I don’t believe I’ve shared recently what I think about the MinnRoast idea. I watched the show; I did not go to any reception beforehand involving any guests, journalists, or politicians.We bought two seats and we watched the show.

  • Gary F

    “DFL Leaning”? Just leaning? Very cozy relationship.

    • Tom Emmer started his routine with ,”I don’t think many of my constituents are here tonight.”

      • Gary F

        Token republican.

        • Seems like a good guy

          • Rob

            yes, better since he’s dropped some of the dogmatism that tends to dominate his side of the aisle. he’s showing that he has a sense of humor, and kudos to Emmer for going to Cuba

          • MrE85

            That was my impression, too. Emmer and Mark Richie were at my table at the last MinnRoast. I introduced myself to my congressman and we had a nice chat all around, leaving politics behind. It was wonderfully refreshing.

  • Rob Levine

    BTW – we KNOW what happens when there are actual conflicts between the plutocrats who run MPR & MinnPost (along with their funders) and the public interest.

    http://triumphofconservativephilanthropy.blogspot.com/2008/01/managed-coverage.html

    • Your long standing disagreement with MPR and MinnPost are well documented, Rob. But you’ll have to wait for another thread to revisit it. It’s not really the subject of this post and I’d rather not have the post hijacked. Thanks.

      • Rob Levine

        Ok Bob. Think I’ll have a very long wait for that.

      • Rob Levine

        But I will say the issues are not unrelated.

    • Angry Jonny

      If you don’t like it, then why are you reading and commenting here?

      • Rob Levine

        Should only people who agree comment? Why am I commenting? Because MinnPost’s model is fraudulent. They claim to be “high quality journalism” while forming a coalition with political actors and rich funders. It is an unholy alliance which is as corrupting as HRC’s money from Wall Street.

        • Angry Jonny

          What evidence do you have of this coalition? Is there an agenda with targeted outcomes? Who are they defrauding, and how so? If you owned a newspaper, how would you fund it’s operation if subscriptions didn’t bring in the necessary revenue?

          • Rob Levine

            Um, did you see the list of Pols at MinnRoast? Take a look at MinnPost’s education coverage – funded by the same foundations that fund all the ed deformers – and lo and behold – ed “reporting” at MinnPost adheres to the ed deformer line. Or MinnPost’s medical coverage – barred by the funder from discussing policy. And corruption isn’t just quid-pro-quo – it is shaping coverage so it aligns with funders.

            There’s probably much more – but MinnPost doesn’t disclose deals with funders.

          • Angry Jonny

            What’s an ed deformer?

          • Rob Levine

            People/orgs funded by the big foundations who want to pressurize and destroy public education by privatization/corporatization schemes such as instituting charter schools, judging teachers by student test scores, removing job protections for teachers. Locally that includes the big foundations – Bush, Minneapolis, Northwest Area – and their funded institutions – MN Comback, Teach for America, Students First, Educators for Excellence, MinnCan, Charter School Partners, etc. Notably, these same foundations fund MinnPost’s ed coverage, which hews to their lines. The foundations have a soup-to-nuts strategy to overcome all opposition – funding the policy, programs, politicians and media.

          • Angry Jonny

            Is it clearly stated in the mission statements of these foundations that they seek to destroy public education?

          • Rob Levine

            Some do. The Center of the American Experient has had a policy for some time that they want to turn all public schools to charters or vouchers. But most understand that admitting their true aims would be a public relations disaster. They have to hide their true intentions. But if you look beneath the surface that’s what they want. Follow what they do, not what they say. Imagine if all the money spent over the past 25 years attacking public schools had instead been spent on helping schools.

          • Guys: Please swap email addresses and take it somewhere else.

            thanks

          • Rob Levine

            Come on Bob – this is an organic discussion to address issues that rarely get discussed here. Let it go. Sometimes things go off on a tangent – that’s not a bad thing.

          • I’m sure you can find another board somewhere that doesn’t mind comments that have nothing to do with the post. This isn’t one of them.

            This isn’t a new policy, as regulars for the last 8 years will attest.

          • Rob Levine

            I would disagree that these comments have “nothing to do” with this post. The events at MinnRoast are all about out of touch elites funded by plutocrats dismissing the views of people who don’t have the benefit of grifting off the largess of huge foundations.

          • I’ve reopened the comments on this post, which fits nicely with your assertion.

            http://blogs.mprnews.org/newscut/2011/03/whats_the_matter_with_a_little/

          • Rob Levine

            There you go 🙂

          • [Updating] Haven’t been able to get that thread opened. Standby.

            [Updated] Now it’s open.

          • [Update]- Nick Coleman has written about the incident and now that I’ve linked to it, and since he brought in the article mentioned in the thread I opened up again for comments, it’s fair game for discussion here. I’ll close the other thread.

          • Rob Levine

            Charter School Partners, for example, is in the middle of a five year plan to open 20 new charter schools in Minneapolis. This is a plan to kill the Minneapolis Public Schools.

          • Rob Levine

            And where do you think the money to do these things comes from? The Walton family (Walmart) funds nearly every charter startup in the Twin Cities – funded with $250k grants to each funneled though Charter School Partners.

          • Rob Levine

            BTW – at least PBS has rules that bar funding schemes with even a “perception” of the funder shaping coverage. If you think “high quality journalism” is where funders are free to shape coverage – overtly – then you don’t understand the purpose of journalism.

          • Rob Levine
  • Gary F

    And the majority of the protesters will vote, AGAIN, for everyone there in the next election, except Emmer.

    • Rob

      you say that like it’s a bad thing

    • Kassie

      Oh, I doubt they will be voting for the current Mayor. I’m sure there will be at least a couple of candidates running that are from the BLM movement. They may not win, but they will run.

  • Sam Gould

    Hi Bob, my name is Sam Gould. I was one of the folks who helped organize people going to Mayor Hodges house that evening. There are some elements within your copy that are inaccurate and, for the sake of accuracy and transparency I would very much appreciate if you and MPR corrected the errors.

    All jokes aside, when I and small group of folks decided to go to the Mayor’s house that night it wasn’t simply a tactic, and we were very explicit that our going there was not an “act of protest” or a call to “release the tapes” as MPR and many other outlets have called our visit. We went to the Mayor’s house because we and people we knew were getting maced, had rubber bullets shot at them, were being beating by 4th Precinct cops with bicycles, and more. We came – as I stated at the time – as neighbors asking neighbors for help. This was not an “act of protest.” It was an act of citizenship and neighborliness. I’d appreciate if our intent, and its good nature, were taken seriously instead of being considered fodder for a joke or inaccurately reported in the press.

    Gary Cunningham took our intent seriously and we had a meaningful and calm conversation that night. The Mayor apparently does not think you should answer the door. That metaphor seems increasingly broad and far reaching, both within City Hall and further afield.

    If you would like to speak to me further to get the facts straight feel free to write: baldwin.gould@gmail.com

    • Hi, Sam. Thanks for writing. All I can change (because it’s all I have responsibility over authority over) is what’s in *this* post. From what can tell, it’s the phrase “protesters” that you think is inaccurate. Is that correct?

      I can change what I wrote, but I cannot change how the mayor characterized it because it’s a direct quote.

      Is the YouTube video of the conversation still online?

      [Update: I stand corrected on this point. See response in original post from Hodges’ office, and have changed it to “demonstrators.”

  • lindblomeagles

    Classic case of two cultures still running into another without the thought or benefit of hindsight. Yes. Hodges and Franken are correct. This is a roast and there aren’t very many guide lines for roasts. But, the Clark issue was pretty serious to her Black constituency, a constituency that already knows Minnesota has not addressed Clark or other important African American issues (see Education, Employment, Housing, Health, did I leave anything out?) to African American satisfaction. More over, using Clark’s death as a meme or jest isn’t that far removed from Southern Jim Crow whites doing the same thing to lynched Blacks from 1865 – 1965. As northerners, we can’t seriously suggest Hodges prank was harmless while still condemning Southerners for their overt comments back then in the past. The nonverbal impression Hodges leaves after this joke to her Black constituency is just another Black criminal going down as he should have. That could have greater repercussions for her and her Police Department down the road, particularly during the next Mayoral election.

    • jwest8

      This is just one example of the weaknesses of the Mayor.
      Mayor Hodges, elected by a minority of voters thanks to ranked choice voting, is a culture clash on so many levels. MPR and MinnPost would do constituents a favor by casting more light on the inner workings of Minneapolis government and how difficult it is to get specific information from the city. She is very disconnected from not only the 4th precinct constituencies but the working class in the rest of the city; not to mention basic operations of city government.

  • MrE85
    • Interesting that the video didn’t include the joke.

      I’m pretty disappointed in MinnPost’s non-covering of the story. It doesn’t speak well of them, I’m afraid.

  • JB B

    It’s very telling that Hodges’ quote says “But when I found out that they were there, I dialed my husband over and over frantically, as you might imagine, as any wife would.” Why was she frantic? What did she assume would happen? Who was she afraid of? And why would she assume “any wife would” be frantically dialing her husband over and over? Apparently she fears the peaceful anti-racist activists in her city.